FAQ - African Violet Name

Question: What is the Latin name for African violets?
Answer: The botanical name for African violets is 'Saintpaulia'. It is in the family of Gesneriaceae which also includes such plants as Gloxinia, Streptocarpus, Aeschynanthus, and Episcia. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork

Question: We've been having a discussion in a group about whether it is possible to definitely "name" an unknown violet based on characteristics. I've maintained that you cannot, because plants may bloom differently under different growing conditions. Even if you make the best educated guess possible, it is just that, a guess. I am positive I've seen an AVSA position on the issue of NOIDs (plants with no ID) in the magazine, but can't recall where or what exactly was said. Does AVSA have a position on the matter? I'd love to share that with our group. I searched the FAQs but couldn't find a post on this. It would be a good one to put though, I'd think.
Answer: It is almost impossible to accurately identify an African violet that doesn't have a name tag or other type of identification (a NOID, or a plant with no ID). The African Violet Master List of Species and Cultivars (AVML) and the First Class computer program list more than 16,000 different named African violets and their descriptions. Depending on your NOID, you could find a few dozen that match the characteristics. You might even be able to narrow it down to four or five. But then you would need to choose one of them, and it would be highly unlikely that you would choose the correct name. Besides that, the AVML has less than half of the named African violets. Even if you found a photo that matched your plant exactly, the odds are great that it is not your plant. So many African violets look the same, and they all grow differently under different growing conditions. It is definitely a mistake to try to identify a NOID in this manner. There are already far too many misidentified African violets out there now. (Just ask anyone who has done classification and entries at an African violet show.) Please don't add to the problem. Joe Bruns, AVSA Registration Chairman

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